I am Rodriguez

rodriguez 1aI PAY a visit to the advice centre in Orgiva to collect a parcel. It’s a place where floundering people such as myself can seek assistance with anything from arranging a dental appointment to buying a house – neither of which is straightforward in an unfamiliar country. It also functions as the postal address for many foreign nationals who live in the surrounding hills, because once out in the campo – the countryside – the Spanish postal system ceases to exist. The two ladies who run the office ask if I have plans for the week. I tell them my wife is visiting family in England, so I will be varnishing doors and fending for myself. “Ah, so you are Rodriguez,” they say . . .

Yes, Rodriguez. When a woman goes on holiday and leaves her husband at home to work, the man is known as Rodriguez, they tell me. It’s a Spanish tradition. “So you are being Rodriguez,” they say. “Estar de Rodriguez.”

I like the idea of being Rodriguez because it sounds quintessentially Spanish. In a moment of weakness, while passing a clothes shop, I consider buying one of those black hats with a big flat brim and a frilly shirt, but the thought that some voluptuous woman in a tight red dress might emerge from a doorway, click her castanets and wrap a leg round me for a quick tango scares me back to reality. I don’t think I could handle that. I’ve seen Moulin Rouge three times so I know what I’m talking about.

But Rodriguez. Hey, that really has a ring to it.

Walking home with my Amazon parcel under my arm I feel I have made a small step towards being accepted into Andalucian society; I am slowly inching – sorry, centimetring – towards integration; I have embraced multiculturalism and am reaping the benefits.

I pass an old lady heaving a tartan wheelie basket up a hill. I want to say to her: “Hey señora. Yo estoy Rodriguez. Waddya think of that?” But I don’t, because I harbour a suspicion there is more to this strange tradition than meets the squinting eye. Who was the original Rodriguez: some poor fellow who’s wife ran off with a Catalan car dealer and left him at home with three chickens and a donkey? I need to undertake some research. Pronto.

Back at my strangely silent house I enter the world of Google and search for Rodriguez. This is not an easy task because Rodriguez is a common name. It’s like phoning a workingmen’s club in Cardiff and asking if Mr Jones is in the bar. But patience brings its small rewards.

One website informs me that the stay-at-home Rodriguez became popular during the 1960s and 1970s, when the traditional roles of husband and wife began to merge and the Spanish middle-classes found they could afford holidays. There are also certain eyebrow-raising connotations associated with the term, as illustrated by this quote:

Ex. “Salimos este finde? Estoy de Rodríguez.”
Translation: “Want to go out this weekend? My wife’s out of town.”

This adds substance to my suspicions. Rodriguez is beginning to look like he’s a bit of a lad. Just as well I didn’t say anything to the old lady with the wheelie basket. Who knows where that could have ended up.

rodriguez2Another dive into the sullied depths unearths a nugget of pyrite suggesting Rodriguez originated in a 1970s Spanish sit-com. Plot: wife leaves home; husband has to figure out how to turn on the hoover and cook toast.

This is a nice idea. The concept of the name surviving in oral tradition after the series has been forgotten has echoes in those well-uttered lines from classic British comedies: Captain Mainwaring’s “stupid boy”; Corporal Jones’s “don’t panic”; Victor Meldrew’s “I don’t believe it”; Del Boy’s “you plonker”; phrases people use time and time again without reference to their origins. Even when uttered out of context they are instantly recognisable and accepted because previous generations have laughed at them.

roddy 2Rodriguez is becoming a complex character. His name has survived but the man has been forgotten. Like the Hobson who gave us a choice and the Riley who lived life to the full, the elusive Gordon Bennett and the tragic Sweet Fanny Adams, he’s made his mark but has left nothing tangible.

I dive deeper into the murky substrata of Google and this time discover a real gem. With an air of unabashed authority, this American website tells me the tradition originates in the 1965 Spanish film comedy El Cálido Verano del Sr Rodríguez (The Hot Summer of Mr Rodriguez), which is about – as we expected – a man who is left alone while his wife goes on holiday.

roddy3Not having seen the film, I cannot speak with the same unabashed authority on whether Señor Rodriguez immerses himself in his work, or his weaknesses lead him to indulge in less-wholesome activities. However, another internet search reveals a series of follow-up films – one titled Tres Suecas para Tres Rodríguez (Three Swedes for Three Rodreguezes) and has a poster depicting three Swedish beauties wearing bikinis – which leads me to conclude that the latter is the more likely scenario.

Hmmm. So that’s what really happens when you’re being Rodriguez.

With an air of unparalleled optimism I saunter to the garden gate to see if any bikini-clad Swedish ladies are passing along the track, but there’s nothing there except the three-legged dog referred to in a previous article. He looks happy enough, though, despite his incapacity.

On the way back I spot my gherkin plants nodding in the sunshine, and I suddenly remember I’d promised to write about gherkins in today’s post. I apologise for this oversight, especially to those among you with a penchant for the pickled variety.

The truth is, when you’re being Rodriguez you’re a very busy person with a multitude of important tasks to perform. Unlike the Swedish ladies, the gherkins will be along shortly.

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25 thoughts on “I am Rodriguez

  1. Alen, thank you for showing me the way into an entirely different universe where Rodriguez reigns superior. I amused myself completely uncontrollable, and felt transported to Pedro Almodóvar’s wonderful films.
    It is good to know something about gherkins, if you need them, but Rodriguez stories are unsurpassed, which you have just proven.
    All the best – and be careful out there among bikinis and tree legs animals 🙂
    Hanna

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    1. Hiya Hanna. I think I am pretty safe in the world of bikinis. You don’t see many of them up here – it’s more baggy Moroccan pants and knitted jumpers.
      I’ve just looked at Pedro Almodóvar’s film list and I don’t think I’ve seen any of them. Must address this. Also see if I can get hold of the first Rodriguez film.
      Cheers, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hola Juan. I got the gist of that without resorting to Google, so my Spanish must be improving – un poco mejor, at least. My esposa is unaware of its existence at the moment. I might tell her tonight.
      Cheers, Alen

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  2. We’re all familiar with characters becoming synonymous with certain traits, he’s a Scrooge, a Victor Meldrew, a Basil Fawlty, but overlook the fact that the same thing must happen in other countries. He’s a Rodriguez is the first non-British one I’ve ever heard of. Wonder if there are French and German examples.

    Maybe one day, say in a hundred years time, someone will walk into the advice centre and leave wondering who or what McEff was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chris. You’ve sparked another example with your last line. I don’t think anyone will be asking who McEff was – but what about the real McCoy? He’s not the Irish doctor in Star Trek, that’s for sure. And Kilroy, the bloke who left his name painted on a wall in every town? As hard as old Harry is a phrase I’ve heard occasionally. Who was old Harry? Was he as happy as Larry? Perhaps they were brothers.
      Actually, I read something about Gordon Bennett just the other day, and if I remember correctly he was an American politician or newspaper owner. So there’s another non-British example for the list.
      Blimey, we could write a book on this.
      Cheers, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cracking tale and research Alen; but what are you going to do with that table tennis bat that you holding in your hand as pictured above?

    Yours, another Rodriguez, nee Alan

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    1. Yes, Alan, it’s always been my ambition to play for the Chinese ping-pong team, so I was just getting in some practice with a fried egg. Thanks for the laugh.
      Alen

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  4. Tynemouth calling. Sorry for not having been in touch for a considerable time. I have been visiting my uncle Gordon he is not happy about further comments on his name. He owns the copyright and I will have to ask you (on his behalf ) for a half a cent. Not much…but it all adds up! Apropos copyright, the man who had the idea of blinking could be used on vehicles as an addition to ‘squint and squish’ took out this patent and forgot he had it and to the horror of all the auto company’s suddenly remembered it and he was paid an undisclosed sum. The mind boggles. I shall henceforth never mention the brothers who sort of (allegedly) laugh in a subtle manner. For as luck would have it I would be fined for miss-use of the aforementioned names. The only good news is I have not got sufficient teeth to serve in the US armed services. Apart from that glad bit news life goes on and on! Pip Pip. Kin regards.

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    1. Peter, best wishes to your uncle Gordon. I shall pay the aforementioned sum into his offshore account if you give me the number in Morse code. What’s the international dialling code for Panama?
      Thanks for cheering up my home-alone Saturday night. I was a bit disgruntled because the sods at the BBC have moved Dad’s Army forward half an hour because of some insignificant sporting event and I missed it. Still, you gave me a good laugh.
      Sorry to hear about the teeth, but at least it has its compensations.
      All the best, Alen

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  5. Brilliant research skills, Alen! That sort of thing can easily make you feel more at home, although that was definitely a narrow miss with the shopping trolley lady. I like the first photo but don’t try to kid me that you don’t know what to do with a frying pan, as I’ve followed your other blog for long enough to know you can at least cook some bacon!

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    1. Jo, you’ve found me out. I feel undone. Last night I cooked rabbit in red wine with leeks and carrots (it was a mixture of two Rick Stein recipes). The things we men get up to when left alone!
      Cheers, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Just a little side issue, I have actually got a picture of Che with a pair of pliers taking Fidel’s tooth out in the Sierra Maestra! Keep painting the doors my freind

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